President Bush Seeks Court Order to End Port Lockout
Mr. Bush said in a late afternoon press conference outside the Oval Office, ”The work stoppage is hurting our entire economy.”
“It is hurting truckers and rail operators who carry goods to other parts of America. It’s hurting farmers and ranchers and manufacturers, retailers and consumers who make, buy and sell the products that pass through our ports.”
Mr. Bush said he would seek an injunction under the Taft-Hartley Act of 1947 from Attorney General John Ashcroft to force the ports to reopen because the lockout, which also affects the transport of military supplies, has created a situation that “imperils our national health and safety,” the president said.
The Taft-Hartley Act would impose an 80-day cooling-off period and force the ports to reopen. Such a move would mark the first presidential effort since 1978 to end a work stoppage under the legislation.
The Pacific Maritime Association, which represents shipping companies and terminal operators, locked out 10,500 members of the longshoremen’s union last week, claiming the dockworkers were engaged in a work slowdown. The longshoremen’s contract expired July 1 and had been extended several times before Labor Day. The sticking point in negotiations between the two sides is whether jobs created by new technology will be unionized.
“After a lot of discussions, we have been unable to bring the two parties together. Therefore, stronger action is required, ” Mr. Bush said.
In a last-minute effort, union officials agreed to return to work under a 30-day contract extension. Union spokesman Steve Stallone said he thought shipping line representatives would accept the extension. But Joseph Miniace, president of the Pacific Maritime Association that represents shipping lines, did not immediately comment on the extension proposal.